Dental implants have revolutionized the replacement of teeth. 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and more than 36 million don't have any teeth, says the American College of Prosthodontists. Dentures can be difficult to wear, making chewing and talking a challenge. The discovery of implant dentistry changed the way lost teeth were treated.
Whether you currently wear full or partial dentures or just need to replace one or more missing teeth, dental implants can give you replacement teeth that look, feel and function as naturally as the original.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are titanium cylinders (screws) that are surgically placed into the jawbone where there are missing teeth below the gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist to mount replacement teeth onto them. Your new tooth, a crown, will look and feel similar to your real teeth.
How Do Dental Implants Work?
Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth. Dentures and bridges mounted to implants won't slip or shift in your mouth — an especially important benefit when eating and speaking. This secure fit helps the dentures and bridges — as well as individual crowns placed over implants — feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.
Who Can Get Dental Implants?
For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging. In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.
To receive implants, you need to have:
- Healthy gums
- Adequate bone to support the implant (or be a candidate for bone grafting)
- Excellent oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits to ensure the long-term success and health of the dental implants
Cost of Dental Implants
Dental implants are usually placed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons or periodontists, although some general dentists may take additional training to learn to place implants. Implants are usually more expensive than other methods of tooth replacement, and most insurance carriers typically cover less than 10 percent of the fees. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, the cost ranges from $3,000 to $4,500 per implant.
Types of Dental Implants
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry considers two types of implants to be safe.
- Endosteal implants — Most commonly placed implants are surgically implanted directly into the jawbone. Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post to the original implant. Finally, an artificial tooth (or teeth) is attached to the post-individually, or grouped on a bridge or denture.
- Subperiosteal implants — These implants are used with patients who do not have enough healthy bone. A metal frame is fitted onto the jawbone below the gum tissue. As the gums heal, the frame becomes fixed to the jawbone. Posts, which are attached to the frame, protrude through the gums. As with endosteal implants, artificial teeth are then mounted to the posts.
Missing teeth can make you feel self-conscious when eating, talking or smiling, and create oral health problems for you as well. Dental implants are a great solution for improving your dental health, as well as your confidence.